Council chiefs have been warned not to allow ‘tosspot’ robots to staff its customer service centres at the expense of human beings.

Conservative Billy Flynn, a member of Leeds City Council, used the term as he said he was “terrified” by the prospect of automated webchats being used to answer queries from the public.

It came after the council’s deputy leader, Councillor Debra Coupar, suggested an online “self-service” system could be introduced to help cut waiting times.

It was claimed earlier this year that some members of the public were on hold to the council for up to 90 minutes.

The local authority managed to significantly cut call queues last month to an average waiting time of just under 10 minutes, having recently recruited extra staff to beef up its call centre.

'Advanced robotics centre' planned for Keighley if funding bid is successful

The council has admitted, however, that it still has more to do to improve this.

Speaking at a scrutiny meeting on Monday morning, Councillor Coupar said robot-led webchats “could be a really good option” for some people.

But Councillor Flynn, who represents Leeds’ Adel and Wharfedale ward, was scathing about their effectiveness.

He said: “What terrifies me about this mention of robots, is that by definition, it is a robot.

“There’s nothing more annoying than when you try to live chat and some t***pot called ‘Mickey’ or ‘Arthur’ comes on and hasn’t got a clue what you’re talking about.”